Is this you? You believe that you have a good sense of who you are, you know what you want and need in a relationship, you even have a dating strategy, but you are taking a break from dating, or considering it.
Why? As with most life decisions, examining motives is always a good idea. If your goal is ultimately to find a great relationship, let’s look at ways to get you out of the “taking a break” zone and back to engaging in your life. Identifying why you are taking a break from dating will help you to know when the time is right to jump back into the process.
A list of whys and wherefores…
- After a breakup:
On the heels of a breakup, taking a dating hiatus is not just reasonable, it’s pretty much necessary. Whether the relationship that ended lasted 20 years or 3 months, you need to take some time to get clear and process. Doing so will help you reenter the dating world with confidence. If you want to minimize the risk of having an instant replay of the last relationship (and instead meet your ideal partner) you need to grieve the loss and heal your wounds. Even the most painful breakup has lessons for you. Learn from them.
As soon as you can look with a modicum of objectivity at the relationship that ended, ask yourself: What worked in the relationship? What didn’t work? What did I learn about myself?
While you want to take as much time as you need, you also don’t want to wait too long. When you feel that you are ready to dive into the dating pool again, take things slowly – baby steps. Tell your friends and family that you are ready to start dating again, go places you enjoy, sign up for a couple of online dating sites, go to singles mixers. Be the person you want to attract.
- To think about yourself, life and the great imponderables:
Some people think that dating is a distraction from the essential tasks of putting time and thought into themselves. They believe that if they are on a personal quest, or in therapy, or exploring a new life purpose, they can’t also pursue a new relationship. Unless you are considering a monastic lifestyle on a mountaintop in Tibet, I am pretty sure the two (self and relationship) are not mutually exclusive.
Think about it: dating is all about you! Discovering your partnering likes, dislikes, values, needs and practicing your dating and communication skills does not have to be compartmentalized. In fact, if having a relationship is important to you, dating is an excellent opportunity to practice the balancing act that is vital to a healthy partnership. Maintaining your individuality while being involved with someone else is an excellent life skill that will be a vital part of that successful relationship you will find…but not if you cut yourself off from making connections with potential partners!
- The fish in the sea are not making the grade:
You are feeling discouraged. Whenever you meet someone new, you realize right away that you have not found “the one,” and you want a serious long term committed relationship. You don’t want to fool around.
But wait a minute. You may be setting up an impossible set of expectations for a first date. If you go into every date needing to find “the one,” you are likely to set yourself up for disappointment and the ensuing harsh self-assessment. I suggest you reframe your expectations and your approach to each new encounter. Can you shift “this is the one” to “this is a connection?” If you avoid attaching to a particular outcome and simply commit to the process of connecting, you will grow immeasurably as a person and also increase your chances of finding a connection you want to pursue. Taking a break from dating is only going to prolong your process.
So next time you meet someone, be curious about the other person, get to know him or her and be actively engaged in the moment, judgments and expectations temporarily suspended.
- Fear of rejection:
Don’t feel bad. This feeling is universal. Even the most outwardly confident person has felt this fear at one time or another. If your romantic advances have been turned down or you have felt rebuffed, it is understandable that you might be afraid to try again.
But think about it: no-one can make you feel rejected without your permission. Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out why something doesn’t fly. There may be no why. And even if there is, it’s not about you, it’s about the other person. What you offer simply does not fit what he or she is looking for at the moment. Easy? No, but true. Again—reframe and get back out there.
- Lack of dating confidence:
Confidence is a funny thing. People can be supremely confident as a professional, as a parent, in the pursuit of hobbies and interests, but when it comes to seeking a new relationship they get downright queasy.
True confidence is self-acceptance, self-assurance and self-love. Your wisdom, your life experiences, your goals, your special heart—these things are worth feeling good about. Your acceptance of yourself will be evident in the self-assured manner with which you present yourself to the world. That is you. That is confidence.
- Waiting for it to “just happen”:
Maybe you are thinking, “If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” There is, I believe, truth to the idea that things happen for a reason and that the universe works its magic behind the scenes, but if we think things “will just happen” without our putting in any time, energy, effort or awareness… we will be disappointed!
Part of being actively engaged in a life you love is being open to the people around you and new experiences. It’s not closing yourself off from the world and waiting for it to come to you. Awareness of what/who you want and taking action, in this case by putting yourself out there and dating again, is the only way to experience other people in a relationship capacity. Start by getting out there. See if the universe won’t just meet you halfway!
Above are just a few reasons you may be on hiatus from dating. Only you know your reasons. I simply want to encourage you to examine those reasons and be sure that your choice is healthy, and not self-sabotage. I do know that if you want to have a relationship, engaging with other people through dating is a must.